Feta Cheese vs. Paneer

Feta and paneer are two delicious cheese options that can be used as salad or sandwich toppings.

Feta Cheese vs. Paneer

However, they have very different flavors. Feta is tangy, salty and sharp. Paneer is mild, creamy, and delicate in flavor. Their textures also vary - feta is crumbly while paneer holds its shape when cooked.

Origins: Feta is Greek, Paneer is Indian

Feta cheese traces its origins to Greece. The term "feta" actually means "slice" in Greek. True feta is made from sheep's milk or a blend of sheep and goat's milk in specific regions of Greece. Similar white brined cheeses are also produced around the Mediterranean.

Paneer is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is an integral part of various curries, vegetables, rice dishes in Indian, Pakistani, Nepali and Bangladeshi cuisines. It is always made from cow or buffalo milk.

So if you are planning any Greek, Mediterranean, or Indian-inspired dishes, knowing the origins of feta and paneer can guide appropriate usage.

Key Takeaway: Feta comes from Greece and paneer comes from India/South Asia. Their origins explain their typical uses in the traditional cuisines.

Flavor and Texture: Salty Tang vs Mild Milkiness

Since feta is made from sheep or goat's milk, it has a distinctive strong flavor. The aging process in brine solution also gives it a salty, sour note. The taste can be too sharp for some people.

Comparatively, paneer made from cow or buffalo milk has a very subtle flavor. It tends to simply soak up the flavors of the spices, vegetables or sauces it is cooked with.

Feta has a crumbly texture that easily flakes into small pieces. So it works great in cold salads, pastas, with fruits, olives, tomatoes. Paneer holds its shape relatively well when cooked. It can be fried, added to curries, stuffed into dough or used in many other ways.

So if making an Indian curry, mild paneer allows the other ingredients to shine. For bold Greek dishes, salty feta makes its presence dominantly known!

Key Takeaway: Due to being aged in brine, feta is tangy, salty and assertive in taste. Paneer has a mild, fresh milky flavor. Feta is crumbly while paneer holds its shape on cooking.

Calorie and Fat Content

Feta clocks approximately 264 calories in 100 grams while paneer has 265 calories in the same quantity.

However, a key nutritional difference between feta vs paneer is the fat content.

  • Feta has about 21 grams of total fat per 100 gram serving. This includes around 17 grams coming from saturated fats.
  • Paneer is very low fat, with roughly 1 gram of total fat per 100 grams. It contains just 0.6 grams of saturated fats.

So feta is nearly 20 times more fatty compared to paneer! No wonder feta tastes so rich and flavorful.

If watching total fat and saturated fat intake, low-fat paneer suits better compared to feta. Paneer can help make relatively guilt-free, lighter meals compared to using feta.

Key Takeaway: Ounce for ounce, feta and paneer have similar calorie counts. But feta has almost double the amount of fat compared to paneer.

Feta Cheese is Not Vegetarian

An important fact about feta is that it contains rennet, a complex of enzymes obtained from the stomach lining of young calves. Rennet is necessary to coagulate milk into cheese curds in traditional feta production.

However, paneer simply uses citric acids from lemon juice, vinegar or certain fermented dairy products to curdle hot milk. No animal-derived ingredients are necessary to make paneer.

So if following a vegetarian or vegan diet, paneer is the better choice instead of feta. Most commercial feta varieties contain animal-based rennet. However, vegetable or microbial rennet based fetas are also catching up.

Key Takeaway: Feta contains rennet derived from calves to coagulate the cheese. So it is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Paneer uses citric acids and is always vegetarian.

Cooking Uses: Salad Cheese vs All-Purpose Paneer

Feta is usually crumbled on top of finished dishes. It is commonly seen in Greek salads, on flatbread pizzas, in pasta, rice bowls and so on. Feta does not handle high heat very well. So most recipes call for adding feta only at the end.

Comparatively, paneer is extremely versatile in the kitchen. It can be stir fried with vegetables, cooked in tomato based or creamy curries, grilled on skewers, stuffed into doughballs and deep fried. Paneer cubes also work well in desserts.

So feta plays a finishing touch or can be a salad cheese. Paneer tends to be an integral ingredient in many dishes spanning appetizers to mains to sweet finales!

Key Takeaway: Feta is most often used uncooked to top salads or flatbreads. Paneer adapts well to Indian curries, fries, skewers when cooked.

Feta Cheese vs. Paneer - Side by Side Comparison

Originating CuisineGreekIndian
Source MilkSheep, Goat or BlendsCow, Buffalo
TextureCrumbly, DicedDense Blocks, Cubed
FlavorSalty, TangyFresh, Milky
Aging ProcessBrinedUnaged Fresh
Melting AbilityLowMedium
Cooking UsageUncooked ToppingFried, Curries, Skewered
Vegetarian StatusRarelyAlways
Calories per 100 g264265
Fat ContentHigh ~21gLow ~1g


Can feta be substituted for paneer?

Feta can be used instead of paneer but the final dish will be a lot more salty and tangy. Paneer's mildness allows other spices and herbs to shine better. Using feta can make the overall flavor profile too sharp.

Is feta better than paneer?

Both feta and paneer have their own specific uses. Feta works very well in Mediterranean preparations with olives, tomatoes etc. Paneer adapts beautifully to Indian curries and vegetable dishes. Choosing one over the other depends solely on the dish being prepared and personal preference.

Is feta good for weight loss?

Despite being high in fats, feta cheese is relatively lower in calories compared to many other cheeses. In moderation, it can be included as part of a weight loss diet. However, there are much lower calorie paneer varieties too. Tracking portion size is key when using feta for weight loss.

Is paneer keto or paleo friendly?

Fresh paneer made of full fat milk fits very well into keto or paleo diets. It is low carb, decent protein all while being vegetarian. Crumbling and frying or grilling paneer can make for some delicious high fat treats. Just watch out for any additives or fillers in commercial paneer blocks.


Feta and paneer may appear somewhat similar being white, diced cheese cubes. However, they have distinctly different origins, aging methods, flavors, textures and typical cooking uses.

While feta dominates salads or flatbreads with its salty zing, paneer adopts wonderfully to Indian curries, skewers and snacks. It comes down to personal choice and the particular dish being prepared while choosing one over the other.

Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀
Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀

I'm a total cheese fanatic! When I'm not busy studying to be a cheesemaker, you can find me scouring local farmers markets and specialty shops for new and exciting cheeses to try. Brie is my all-time fave, but I also love exploring aged goudas, funky blues, and rich creamy camemberts. Looking forward to sharing lots of melty, gooey cheese pics and reviews!